First of six consultants indicted in Amazon bribery scheme sentenced to prison
Defendant used prior status as Amazon employee and underhanded tactics, including commercial bribes, to steal confidential information and manipulate the Amazon Marketplace
Seattle – The first of six consultants indicted in September 2020, for a fraud and bribery scheme targeting Amazon.com and its online Marketplace, was sentenced today to 10 months in prison and a fine of $50,000, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Rohit Kadimisetty, 28, of Northridge, California pleaded guilty to conspiracy in September 2021. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones said, “You do not have a license to steal from Amazon, …you were involved in illegal conduct…. This could be called modern day organized crime.”
“Mr. Kadimisetty used his knowledge and contacts from prior employment at Amazon, to enrich himself by manipulating listings on Amazon Marketplace,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “He was a critical cog in the bribery wheel: paying contacts in India to reinstate suspended accounts, steal confidential information and attack competitors who got in the way of those funding the bribery scheme.”
According to records in the case, since at least 2017, the defendants used bribery and fraud to elevate and benefit certain merchants on the Amazon Marketplace. Kadimisetty and the other defendants served as so-called consultants to third-party (“3P”) sellers on the Amazon Marketplace. Those 3P sellers sold a wide range of goods, including household goods, consumer electronics, and dietary supplements on Amazon’s multi-billion-dollar electronic commerce platform.
Following his employment at Amazon, and after relocating to the United States, Kadimisetty used his inside knowledge to recruit employees in India to misuse their employee privileges and access to internal information, systems, and tools. Kadimisetty connected employees in India with other consultants and 3P sellers across the United States. Kadimisetty acted as a middleman of sorts, assigning tasks on behalf of 3P sellers and negotiating and arranging bribe payments on behalf of corrupted Amazon insiders. To hide his criminal conduct, Kadimisetty used deceptive email accounts, encrypted messaging services, and bribes through third parties.
The illicit services provided by Kadimisetty and the other defendants included: stealing confidential business information about Amazon algorithms; reinstating accounts and products that had been suspended; circumventing inventory fees for Amazon warehouses; falsifying claims for lost inventory; and facilitating attacks on competing sellers and product listings.
In his plea agreement, Kadimisetty admits being responsible for $100,000 in bribes paid to Amazon insiders during his active involvement in the enterprise. Kadimisetty left the conspiracy in late-2018, after a number of his contacts in India were fired by Amazon due to the misconduct.
“Mr. Kadimisetty used his insider access and expertise for his own benefit and those of his co-conspirators. Not only did his actions break the law, but ultimately consumer confidence was shaken by calling into question fair play. Fortunately, the actions of law enforcement were able to stop this scheme,” said Special Agent in Charge Donald Voiret, FBI Seattle.
Four defendants, Ephraim Rosenberg, of Brooklyn, Joseph Nilsen, and Kristen Leccese, of New York City, and Hadis Nuhanovic, of Acworth, Georgia, are scheduled for trial in October 2022. Defendant Nishad Kunju, of Hyderabad, India, has not been arraigned on the indictment.
The case is being investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations (IRS:CI), and the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Steven Masada and Nicholas Manheim.